Art News & Views

In the News, June 2012

Iraqi Historical Buildings Neglected

Baghdad. Iraqi architects and historians have criticised official neglect of historical buildings nationwide, many of which have fallen into disrepair. Iraqi historian Salim al-Alusi said that Baghdad inherited historical centers that are 1,250 years old. Iraqi architect Hisham al-Medfai pointed out that only 200 old houses remain in the eastern half of Baghdad, after hundreds were replaced by new shopping centers, which he explained as a big loss and a result of the absence of planning and called for the government to invest in preserving heritage buildings.

However, Baghdad's local authority has begun prohibiting locals from renovating their houses or buildings if they are classed as historical sites.

Cambodia Sues for Statue's Return

Cambodia. Cambodian officials have demanded the return of a 10th-century statue Phnom Penh that was stolen from the Prasat Chen temple ruins. Cambodia is prepared to take U.S. art auction house Sotheby's to the Supreme Court. The sandstone warrior statue is one of the three statues looted during Cambodia's 1970-75 civil war.

The sandstone warrior which is believed to represent Duryodhana from the Hindu Mahabarata epic is from the Prasat Chen temple complex in the jungle north of the ancient Khmer capital of Angkor. It was set to be auctioned last year by Sotheby's for as much as $3 million. But the item was pulled after Cambodia protested the sale, and in March, U.S. officials filed a suit against Sotheby's on Cambodia's behalf, saying the piece was removed illegally.

Cambodia claims to have documents that prove the country to be the rightful owner of the statue. The national conservation agency has identified the column that matches the piece and is keeping it in Siem Reap in case it is needed as evidence.

Miró Shines

London. On 19 June Sotheby's put up 48 lots for sale, carrying expectations of up to £102m, it managed to notch up £75m. The only painting to shine was Miró's Peinture (Etoile bleue) (1927). It had recently featured in the Zurich Kunsthaus exhibition of works from the Nahmad family, so it can be assumed that they were the vendors and that they must have been happy at the world record price it achieved: £23.6m, above its estimate of £15m-£20m. Also making good prices were eight watercolours by Kandinsky from a private collection: all sold bar one, with the top price of £1.33m given for Entwurf zu 'Grüner Rand (1919), estimated at £750,000-£900,000.

India's Largest Contemporary Art Exhibition Opens In Beijing

Beijing, Bernama. On June 23, Chinese art lovers had a taste of Indian contemporary art works as an exhibition containing the largest collection of modern paintings, sculptures and photos opened. The two-month long exhibition titled Indian Highway displays India Highway art works which have already travelled to five countries in the recent past.

The collection features work by 32 Indian artists including M F Husain, Ayisha Abraham, N S Harsha, Dayanita Singh, Tejal Shah, Sudarshan Shetty, Ravi Agarwal, Abhishek Hazra, Valay Shende, Sarnath Banerjee, Subodh Gupta and Prajakta Potnis.

The Indian Highway has appeared at major art institutions including the Musee d'Art Contemporain Lyon and MAXXI Rome, since premiering at London's Serpentine Gallery in 2008.

Galleries, artists, bookstores Withdraw from Tel Aviv's White Night

Tel Aviv. Nine Tel Aviv galleries have cancelled their participation in the 'White Night' cultural festival to be held on 28th June, to  protest the arrest of 85 social-justice activists on 23rd June night. Galleries that have announced they are pulling out of the all-night, city-sponsored festival include Shay Arye, Kaymah, Alfred, Gal-On, Indie, Binyamin, Julie M., the Center for Contemporary Art and Kibbutz Gallery.

A group of social activists is staging an alternative 'Black Night' festival will be held in the poor Shapira neighbourhood of south Tel Aviv.

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